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Spiritual Experiences in the Philippines
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Spiritual Experiences in the Philippines

Lemuel Leong—Sabah, Malaysia

It is the experience of the True Jesus Church in many places that, as the church grows, Satan will use every wile to hinder and destroy the work of the church. Between 2005 and 2008, a series of spiritual battles took place in the True Jesus Church of the Philippines. Preacher Lemuel Leong from Sabah recounts a personal experience of one of these, which took place in July 2005.

Battle Begins: Heresy

My fellow preacher and I were on a pastoral trip to Manila, the capital of the Philippines located in Northern Philippines when we received very disturbing news. Influenced by churches of other denominations, one of the Filipino church workers of our church in Samar Island in the Eastern Philippines had started teaching the believers that the name of God was the Hebrew Yehoshua. He expressly forbade the use of Jesus as he claimed that all translations of God’s name were ineffective.

We were extremely concerned about this heresy and the deep unease it was causing the members, so we made a last-minute change to our original pastoral visit plan to include a detour to Samar. We also asked God to personally guide us in addressing this heresy effectively.

Our first stop, Laoang church, was in the north of Samar Island, located on a small island just across the northeastern tip of the main island. As we were waiting to cross the strait to Laoang, both of us suddenly felt an urge to visit newly-baptized Sister A. Since she lived in a nearby village, we thought she would be able to shed some light on the events in Samar Island.

Battle Intensifies: Demon-Possession

Sister A had once been a pastor in another church. We knew her to be diligent in studying the Bible as well as zealous in serving God and receiving guests. But on that occasion, when we arrived at her house, we found her uncharacteristically burdened, gloomy and extremely weary. Entering her house, we saw a young lady—Sister A’s daughter—pinned to the ground by three men; screaming, struggling and glaring balefully at us. This had been going on for about a month, leaving the family extremely distressed and exhausted.

Devil’s Foothold #1: Leaving the Fold of God

We knelt down to pray and cast out the evil spirit in Jesus’ name. But why did the devil possess this young believer? Realizing that it was critical for us to get to the root of the problem, I stopped the prayer and questioned the family. Sister A confessed that she had lost faith and had left the church with great disappointment because the believers had been forced to use the name Yehoshua instead of Jesus. On the first Sabbath after she stopped attending church, the evil spirit began to disturb her daughter.

So this was the breach that had allowed Satan’s invasion! Leaving the church—God’s fold—is tantamount to leaving the scope of God’s grace. We then become highly vulnerable to the devil’s wiles and fiery arrows. So we admonished the sister to defend the truth courageously instead of leaving the church in times of crisis. We then encouraged her to repent in prayer.

Devil’s Foothold #2: Sorcery

During the second prayer, both my co-worker and I inexplicably opened our eyes at the same time. To our astonishment, we saw the father of the possessed girl surreptitiously take some unknown objects from her and pass them to his wife. Immediately, I stopped the prayer again to find out what they were trying to hide. It turned out to be amulets that the non-believer father had obtained to try to cure his daughter. Sister A was aware of his actions but had—in her despair—consented to such use of sorcery. So we sternly told the family that light has no communion with darkness, Christ has no accord with Belial and that believers must keep themselves holy. Consequently, we burnt all these charms in Jesus’ name.

Devil’s Foothold #3: Impurity

After our third prayer, we inquired about the identity of the man who had been standing next to the possessed lady all the time. Sister A introduced him as her son-in-law; she added that the couple had yet to register their marriage but it was evident that they were already cohabiting. We had found yet another loophole for the devil to enter because such impurity before marriage constituted disrespect towards God and His commandments. We exhorted this family with biblical principles on marriage and asked them to repent. We also instructed the young couple to register their marriage as soon as possible.

Battle Won

The fourth prayer was an earnest prayer of repentance by the whole family. We entreated the heavenly Father to set the possessed girl free from her bondage to the evil spirit. Amazingly, after this prayer, she got up from the ground where she had been writhing on; she cleaned herself and was even able to go into the kitchen to prepare a light meal for us.

God’s compassion is truly great, especially when we humbly turn back to Him. Very importantly, the entire incident allowed the unbelieving father in this family to experience God for himself. He personally witnessed how the demon was cast out through the wondrous power of Jesus’ name. Hence, when we went back to visit the family the next day, he requested to be baptized into the true church. So we decided to conduct baptism on the following Sabbath day.

Satan’s Final Attempts

However, Satan is a patient and persistent foe. On the Sabbath morning of the baptism, just as Sister A and family were setting off for church, the evil spirit started to work again. But the family persevered. And it was an amazing effort: a group of people carried the possessed girl all the way through the paddy fields, took the trishaw to the jetty, took the ferry to the other shore and finally sent her to church on another trishaw.

When they finally arrived at the church, the whole congregation interceded for the possessed sister with one accord. Subsequently, a group of believers went to the baptismal site, while another group remained in church to pray earnestly for the sister, relying on the Holy Spirit to fight this battle.

Our God is a faithful God. He soon personally stepped in. As the believers prayed, the possessed sister saw a vision of a river. The river water was foul and fetid; an evil spirit dressed completely in black and covered with maggots stood on the other bank beckoning her to join him. Then, a man in a shining white garment called out to her to stop her from following the evil spirit. He also informed her that there were still charms in their family home, which had to be destroyed before she could be completely healed.

The sister’s family quickly returned home and followed the directions of the man dressed in white. Another amulet was found and brought back to church to be burnt by the preachers. Consequently, the sister was completely freed.

Still Satan did not give up. Days later, the evil spirit returned to try to convince the family that he would leave them if they offered a chicken to him. My co-worker encouraged them to resist the devil with steadfast faith, as well as to watch and pray (1 Pet 5:9). Moreover, he told them emphatically not to fear the devil’s threats and never to compromise with him.

Thank God, the series of spiritual battles finally came to a close after these events.

All Things Work Together For Good

In retrospect, it is clear that church growth in the Philippines had drawn Satan’s attention, and inevitably, his attacks. Unfortunately, some of the members were hurt and a considerable number were even taken captive by the evil one and lost.

The Bible tells us that, “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom 8:28). In fact, God often turns Satan’s attacks into a testimony of His power and glory. The Holy Spirit led us to this family to show them His timely care and concern. He then restored their faith and also strengthened the faith of the whole congregation on Samar Island.

At the same time, the events were an effective refutation of the heresy regarding the name of Jesus. The fact that we had cast out the evil spirit in Jesus’ name proved to the factious worker that there is power in the name Jesus. There is no added power from using the Hebrew rendition! After all, Revelation 14:6 tells us that the everlasting gospel will be preached to every nation, tribe, tongue and people. It stands to reason then that God would definitely allow nations all over the world to call on His name and worship Him in their local language.

In addition, although the vigorous spiritual battles were disquieting experiences, there is much to be thankful to God for.

First, His wondrous guidance and protection: the Holy Spirit guided and protected our workers through this, and many other, trials.

Second, the members themselves gained precious spiritual experiences and received warnings to enhance their faith.

In all, “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps 23:3–4).

May the Lord, our God, continue to guide and build up His flock in the Philippines, and may all glory, honor and praise be given to Him. Amen!

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